Hummus is a popular snack or component of a plant-based meal.
It can be enjoyed as a condiment or spread on things like sandwiches, pita, and crackers, or eaten as a dip with vegetables or other crudités, pretzels, and pita chips, just to name a few.
But, is hummus good for you? Is hummus a healthy snack? Are there hummus benefits you should consider when planning your daily snacks?
In this article, we will discuss if hummus is healthy for a meal or snack and the benefits of hummus.
We will cover:
- What Is Hummus?
- Is Hummus a Healthy Snack?
- 4 Health Benefits of Hummus
- Is Hummus Bad for You?
Let’s get started!
What Is Hummus?
Hummus is a condiment, dip, or spread that originates from Middle Eastern cuisine. It is made from pureed chickpeas, which are also called garbanzo beans.
Although hummus recipes vary widely at this point, traditional ones usually also contain tahini, sesame paste, lemon juice, salt, and olive oil.
There are many other flavors of hummus created that might include red pepper, ground black pepper, garlic, pine nuts, paprika, chipotle peppers, and other herbs and spices.
Is Hummus a Healthy Snack?
So, is hummus good for you? Is hummus healthy?
Overall, because it is made from chickpeas and tahini paste, hummus can be a healthy option for most people, depending on your dietary needs and goals.
However, it’s important to note that there is some research that suggests that labeling foods as “good,” “bad,” or even “healthy” may promote unhealthy attitudes toward food or even disordered eating.
Therefore, rather than trying to classify hummus as being “good” for you or even “bad” for you, it’s more useful to consider the nutritional profile of hummus and whether that fits well into your own dietary goals and needs.
The other helpful thing to consider is whether you enjoy eating hummus and whether it takes the place of foods that are less in line with your dietary goals (foods that are more “unhealthy”) or whether you’re eating hummus instead of foods that are better to meet your dietary goals.
In this first scenario, eating hummus will improve your overall diet quality; however, in the latter, eating hummus may not be the best option for your diet.
Because there is a wide variety of hummus recipes and even ingredients used to make hummus, the hummus nutrition facts can vary significantly from brand to brand or from recipe to recipe with homemade hummus.
When buying pre-packaged hummus, it’s a good idea to look at the nutrition facts panel, read the ingredients label, and compare products to find the healthiest hummus.
Some packaged hummus contains a lot of sodium and may contain a lot of oil, making the caloric content higher.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a typical 2-tablespoon (28g) serving of hummus will usually contain:
- 59 calories
- 3 grams of protein
- 2.5 grams of fat
- 8 grams of carbohydrates
- 2 grams of fiber
- 1 gram of sugar
- 20 milligrams (mg) of calcium
- 170 mg of sodium (7% DV)
4 Health Benefits of Hummus
Hummus has several potential health benefits, depending on the specific recipe used. Here are some hummus benefits:
#1: Hummus Provides Key Nutrients
Hummus can be a healthy snack because it provides several key nutrients, including fiber and protein.
Protein can help increase satiety and potentially decrease caloric intake by promoting fullness. Therefore, if you eat hummus as a snack between meals, you might be able to stay better satiated between meals to prevent overeating.
Fiber also promotes a feeling of fullness while also providing many additional health benefits such as improving digestion, promoting bowel regularity, feeding the healthy bacteria in the gut, and decreasing the risk of certain diseases such as heart disease.
Studies have found that people who regularly eat chickpeas or hummus seem to consume a diet that contains more fiber, unsaturated fat, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants overall.
Although this only demonstrates an association rather than necessarily pointing to the fact that hummus is causing all of these dietary improvements, because hummus is rich in fiber, protein, and certain vitamins and minerals, it can certainly improve diet quality when chosen over less nutritious snacks and condiments.
To this end, studies have also found that people who include hummus in their diet do seem to make healthier food choices and that hummus may help promote healthy eating.
Researchers noted that due to the health benefits of hummus, such as the ability to improve blood sugar regulation, decrease fasting lipids, reduce appetite, and decrease total daily food intake, incorporating hummus into the diet can improve overall diet quality because it can replace foods that are higher in saturated fats, sodium, or added sugars.
These changes, in turn, may help reduce the risk of heart health, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
#2: High Protein Content
One of the hummus benefits, especially when used as a condiment or spread, is that hummus contains more protein than most other condiments or spreads.
For example, if you substitute mayonnaise or mustard for hummus on a sandwich, wrap, or burger bun, you can easily add more protein (and fiber!) to your diet while still getting the moisture benefits and creaminess you might desire from mayonnaise.
#3: Eating Hummus May Improve Blood Sugar Regulation
One of the nutritional aspects of hummus that make it a particularly healthy snack is that it is much lower in sugar than many popular snack foods, even those often deemed “healthy,“ such as granola bars, dried fruit trail mix, and fruit-flavored yogurts, and it certainly contains much less sugar than snack foods such as cookies, sweets, and candy bars.
Hummus is considered a low-glycemic food, which means that it does not cause a significant spike in blood sugar levels after eating it in the way that a food that is primarily composed of simple carbohydrates, such as cookies, white bread, or sweetened breakfast cereal, would.
This helps keep blood sugars stable after eating hummus and prevents a significant increase in insulin secretion. This can ultimately cause a blood sugar crash, leaving you feeling hungry and tired after eating.
Furthermore, chronic exposure to high levels of insulin can lead to insulin resistance and eventually pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes.
The reason that hummus is a low glycemic food is that the high fiber content and complex carbohydrate structure slow the breakdown of the carbohydrate molecules, delaying the release of sugar into your bloodstream and helping you stay full for a longer period of time.
Some studies have even found that consuming hummus may help lower blood sugar levels, which could be particularly helpful for those who are already diabetic or have high blood sugar levels.
One study found that people who eat hummus for an afternoon snack experienced a decrease in blood sugar by about 5%. Although this may not seem like much, most snack foods would increase blood sugar, so substituting a sugary snack for hummus can be a great fit for blood sugar regulation.
#4: Eating Hummus May Help Regulate Appetite
The higher fiber and protein content in hummus may be helpful in managing appetite and promoting fullness between meals.
This can potentially support weight loss by decreasing caloric intake at subsequent meals or snacks.
For example, one study found that eating an afternoon snack of hummus decreased subsequent snacking on desserts by about 20% compared to people who had no snack or ate a bar.
Study participants reported about a 70% decrease in appetite after eating hummus and 30% greater satiety as well.
Of course, it’s worth mentioning that losing weight by eating hummus will only be successful if you are indeed consuming fewer calories than you are burning and not overeating hummus or other foods in your diet.
Is Hummus Bad for You?
Now we’ll move from is hummus healthy, to, is hummus bad for you? As mentioned, it’s not usually a good idea to unilaterally categorize foods as good for you or bad for you. With that said, hummus is not necessarily healthy under all circumstances.
The main thing to be mindful of when buying, making, or eating hummus is the sodium content.
Particularly with prepackaged hummus products, the serving size is usually quite small, usually 2 tablespoons, and the sodium content can be quite high.
Many people eat more than a single serving of hummus in one sitting, so it’s very important to choose a low-sodium hummus if you are going to be eating a lot of it, particularly if you eat other high-sodium foods in your diet or have high blood pressure.
A single serving of some commercial hummus may have as much as 18 to 20% of the recommended daily intake of sodium, but there are plenty of healthier low-sodium hummus products and brands that have only 5 to 6% of your daily sodium intake.
When you are making hummus at home, either look for a low-sodium hummus recipe or consider reducing the amount of salt suggested in the recipe. The other thing to consider is the fat and calorie content of the hummus.
The type of fat found in hummus is typically healthy fats from olive oil, which are actually good for you, but fat is a calorically-dense nutrient, so if you are trying to lose weight, you may be best served looking for a low-fat hummus or using less oil in your hummus recipe.
If you are interested in making great choices for your health and diet, take a look at our other nutrition guides!